A brand new you

brand new you

Don’t you understand? I already have a plan. I’m waiting for my real life to begin.

In “Waiting for My Real Life to Begin,” Colin Hay sings of the restless ambition that lies in the quest for rediscovery. There’s a sense of anticipation, of looking forward to the adventures that lie ahead. The past year has been a momentous time of change and rediscovery for a number of my friends and colleagues as they navigate their respective careers. While some started a new journey of their own volition, others were forced to trek down a new path. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate doubled to 10 percent between December of 2007 and the same period in 2009.

Statistics aside, the recent economic twists and turns have presented not just difficult challenges but new opportunities, not the least of which is the chance to define (or in some cases, redefine) a personal brand. In the traditional sense a brand is a unique identity that distinguishes a product or service in its market space. However, business professionals strive to leave the same type of indelible impression in their competitive career markets, so parallel decisions and questions come to mind. “Are there ways to repackage myself? “Can I position myself in a new space?” “Are there new channels through which to market my skills?”

This last question is the most compelling in a landscape where social networking and new media increasingly have come to define the way in which companies are doing business. According to Jonah Berger, marketing professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, using social networking sites or communicating through new media channels, such as blogs, can be especially useful for professionals who want to reshape their career profile. “People will begin to see you in that role,” Berger notes. “By creating these links, you can change your meaning to [others].”

Although the value of traditional networking remains significant, career planning experts point to the game-changing influence over the last five years of Internet-based social networking sites. Such sites enable like-minded professionals to forge connections, not just across the conference room or lunch table, but across the country or even overseas, leading to unprecedented opportunities to expand contact lists, generate business leads, or even develop a new career.

Millions of business professionals have joined sites such as LinkedIn, a business-oriented networking site that helps connect its 55 million users into self-defined networks and groups. Likewise, Facebook and Twitter have become a nearly de facto standard for the real-time exchange of information and ideas. Each provides a unique way to develop a personal brand and market skills that previously were the exclusive domain of the resume and interview process.

Social networking provides a whole new plan for defining a new life through a personal brand. The crux of this plan is patience. Just as product branding rarely has dramatic short-term results, building a personal brand is a long-term investment in helping a new life to begin.

Neena Needel is founder and Principal of Point2Point Group (www.point2pointgroup.com). If you would like to continue the conversation, post a comment or send a message to neena@point2pointgroup.com.

colin hay

Written by Colin Hay and Thom Mooney, “Waiting for My Real Life to Begin” was originally released in 1994 and was re-released in 2000 on Going Somewhere. A veteran of the music industry, Mr. Hay made his mark during the 1980s as lead vocalist of the Australian band Men at Work. “Waiting for My Real Life to Begin” is one in a series of beautiful songs on this album. Click the album image to link to an audio version.

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about neena gupta needel

In marketing, a brand touchpoint refers to every opportunity a company has to impress its brand upon its consumers. I hope my thoughts on these pages will help to connect my ideas with others who share a passion for marketing and communication.

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